mas·​sa·​cre | \ ˈma-si-kər How to pronounce massacre (audio) \

Definition of massacre

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act or an instance of killing a number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty witnessed the massacre of a boatload of refugees
2 : a cruel or wanton (see wanton entry 1 sense 1a) murder
3 : a wholesale slaughter of animals Residents engaged in a citywide cat massacre.
4 : an act of complete destruction the author's massacre of traditional federalist presuppositions— R. G. McCloskey the Puritan massacre of statues and pictures— Robert Hughes


massacred; massacring\ ˈma-​si-​k(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce massacring (audio) \

Definition of massacre (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to kill by massacre
2 : mangle sense 2 words were misspelled and syntax massacred— Bice Clemow

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Other Words from massacre


massacrer \ ˈma-​si-​kər-​ər How to pronounce massacrer (audio) , -​krər \ noun

Examples of massacre in a Sentence

Noun The game turned out to be a complete massacre. the infamous massacre of more than 200 Sioux at Wounded Knee, South Dakota Verb Hundreds have been massacred in the uprising. The other team really massacred us on Saturday. He really massacred that song.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun One morning, a fund-raiser was held on El Alto’s scrappy outskirts for the families of the victims of the massacre. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, "The Fall of Evo Morales," 16 Mar. 2020 The bone pit could have been simply a workshop for making bone tools—or the remains of a massacre, Sugiyama says. Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, "‘Astounding new finds’ suggest ancient empire may be hiding in plain sight," 27 Feb. 2020 It's believed hundreds of thousands were killed in a massacre the United States government backed. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Pete Buttigieg Is Worried About the "Revolutionary Politics of the 1960s," but We Need Them Now More Than Ever," 26 Feb. 2020 Texas fought hard enough to erase the sour taste of that massacre in Morgantown. Nick Moyle,, "Andrew Jones, Courtney Ramey lead short-handed Texas by No. 20 West Virginia," 24 Feb. 2020 But the platform also was used to help fuel a genocide in Myanmar, a U.N. report concluded, and has been used to live-stream violence, including video of a massacre at a New Zealand mosque. Craig Timberg, Anchorage Daily News, "How conservatives learned to wield power inside Facebook," 20 Feb. 2020 No one in Tulsa is celebrating the architects of the massacre—not like the leaders of our state. Roy S. Johnson |, al, "Johnson: Alabama is a sad tale of two states: Where do you want to live?," 19 Feb. 2020 Teachers in certain Florida school districts are now allowed to carry firearms on school grounds due to a controversial state law that came on the heels of a school massacre. Fox News, "Some Florida teachers can now carry firearms on school, campuses," 2 Oct. 2019 Last year, relatives waited for authorities to release the remains of the 51 Muslim worshippers killed in massacres at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch., "This day in history," 16 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The finds were uncovered at three sites in the Arnsberg forest, where members of the Waffen-SS and German army massacred 208 Polish and Russian forced laborers in March 1945, just before the end of World War II. Fox News, "Auschwitz discovery: Secret items hidden by prisoners found at concentration camp site," 21 May 2020 In July 1995 Bosnian Serb authorities massacred more than eight thousand Muslim prisoners at Srebrenica, a slaughter that provoked public outrage in Europe and the US. Steve Coll, The New York Review of Books, "The Struggle for Better," 13 May 2020 Last week, a gunman massacred dozens of congregants in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul after storming a Sikh temple. Philip Heijmans,, "How the World’s Hot Spots Are Festering in Times of Coronavirus," 10 May 2020 The remaining leadership of the Confederacy of Independent Systems were massacred at Mustafar, and a new Galactic Empire had supplanted its democracy-loving forebear. Zarnon Kalgon, Popular Mechanics, "Why the X-Wing Is Such a Badass Spaceplane," 4 May 2020 In the 14th century the Jews were accused of poisoning the wells and were massacred by the thousands. David Kipen, Los Angeles Times, "Q&A: Author Cynthia Ozick will spend her 92nd birthday ‘contemplating mayhem’," 8 Apr. 2020 In one night the neighborhood was pillaged and set ablaze, its people massacred. Nehemiah D. Frank, Time, "Researchers Have Found Evidence of Mass Graves From the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Here's Why That News Is Bittersweet for My Community," 18 Dec. 2019 Malloy had been governor when 26 people, including 20 children, were massacred by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Susan Page, USA TODAY, "USA TODAY interview: Nikki Haley isn't running for president. That is, not yet.," 12 Nov. 2019 Republicans had lost their Senate majority by late 2012, when 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut were massacred by a man with a Bushmaster rifle and high-capacity magazines. Joe Sonka, The Courier-Journal, "How McConnell has fought gun control despite a mass shooting in his hometown 30 years ago," 12 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'massacre.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of massacre


circa 1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for massacre

Noun and Verb

Middle French

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Time Traveler for massacre

Time Traveler

The first known use of massacre was circa 1578

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Statistics for massacre

Last Updated

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Massacre.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for massacre


How to pronounce massacre (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of massacre

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the violent killing of many people
informal : a game or competition in which one person or team easily defeats another



English Language Learners Definition of massacre (Entry 2 of 2)

: to violently kill (a group of people)
informal : to easily defeat (someone or something)
: to do (something) very badly : to ruin (something) because of lack of skill


mas·​sa·​cre | \ ˈma-sə-kər How to pronounce massacre (audio) \

Kids Definition of massacre

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the violent and cruel killing of a large number of people


massacred; massacring

Kids Definition of massacre (Entry 2 of 2)

: to kill a large number of people in a violent and cruel manner

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